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The BWF CERTIFIRE Fire Door & Doorset Scheme Quarterly Trends Report

Fire Door Manufacturers Upbeat Despite Supply Difficulties

BWF Chief Executive Richard Lambert commented: "Supply difficulties since the survey was completed have become the single biggest problem for the industry. The problem stems from the difficulty which some manufacturers have found in obtaining plywood facings and hardwood lippings. Traditionally, the main source of these components is Indonesia, which has been placed under great pressure recently to ensure the legality and sustainability of its timber products. This has led to the world market regarding much of what was supplied formerly as potentially illegal, with only a limited amount of product guranteed as legal and sustainable currently available. We think this is the first time the joinery sector has had to deal with a major shortage of supply generated by the rpessure for sustainable timber.

"As a result, these manufacturers have been trying to obtain sufficient supplies to maintain production, developing alternative production specifications and identifying other certified sustainable materials. These will require further fire testing and certification, which inevitably takes time, but we have been assured that the current situation is temporary and should be resolved within the next few weeks.

"Perhaps the most surprising result of this quarter's survey is that the trend in rising costs seems to be turning. Whether that will continue in the face of the recent energy price rises, which a re undoubtedly having a serious effect on all manufacturing sectors, remains to be seen."

"Some of those affected by the shortage are considereing importing doors from other parts of the world to solve the immediate problem. Anyone contemplating this should ensure that they verify the quality of the product carefully before committing themselves. The need to overcome an immediate supply difficulty should not mean resorting to the use of sub-standard fire doors. A fire door is not just another door; in a fire, it is aprecision engineered safety device. Compromising on safety now as a short-term expedient could lead to far greater problems in the future."

The latest timber fire door survey assesses the timber fire door market in terms of the percentage of manufacturers experiencing a particular business trend (e.g. a sale rise) over those experiencing the opposite, expressed as a net balance. On this basis, a balance of 42% of manufacturers sold more timber fire doors in April to June 2006 compared with January to March 2006 (chart 1).

Year-on-year sales were also up with a net 29% of manufacturers reporting higher sales in April to June 2006 compared with the same period of 2005 (chart 1). Of those reporting increases, most (90%) saw increases of 10% or more.

"There has been an increase in new build housing construction in our area and more is planned. All new housing must now meet the new fire safety regualtions, and are therefore required by law to have the appropriate fire doors fitted. This should in turn have an impact on our sales of timber fire doors in 2006 compared with 2005."

Mr Richard Tresise, Sales & Marketing Manager
Cavendish Joinery, Hertfordshire

Expectations are also positive with a net 17% of manufacturers forecasting better sales in July to September compared with April to June (chart 2). A balance of 33% also anticipate better sales over the next three months compared with the same quarter last year (chart 2).

"With new hospitals and new apartments being built in our area, the growth in demand for timber fire doors has been easy to see. Legislation now enures that these buildings must have fire rated doors fitted, and the builders have a legal requirement to adhere to these rules."

Mr B E Ketton, Managing Directorr
Brystewood Architectural Joinery Ltd, Newark

On balance, a quarter of manufacturers interviewed are more optimistic now about the overall prospects for the timber fire door market than three months ago (cahrt 3). Few are downcast.

Orders for timber fire doors also increased, with a balance of 29% of manufacturers reporting fuller order books compared with three months ago (chart 4).

On balance 67% of manufacturers reported an increase in purchase costs of materials compared with three months ago. However, a net 25% of firms also increased their selling prices to counter the rise in costs (chart 5).

A net 42% of manufacturers are working at capacity (chart 6). Specifically for timber for timber fire doors, 42% are also working at capacity (chart 7).

The main problems facing manufacturers in Arpil to June were supplier price rises (58%), margin squeeze (54%) and price sutting in the market (42%). However, the single biggest problem affecting manufacturers over this period was supplier price rises, mentioned by 17% of respondents (chart 8).

Eighty-six percent of timber fire doors sold over the last twelve months by manufacturers were internal doors. Fourteen percent were external doors.

Timber fire doors sold in last 12 monthsManufacturers' % of fire doors sales
By type of Fire Door:
Flush doors63%71%
Panel doors15%11%
Die formed doors7%0%
Laminated timber cored flush doors15%18%
All Timber Fire Doors86%14%

Fourty-one percent of timber fire doors sold over the last 12 months were in fire door sets. Most manufacturers (79%) continue to sell fire door frames and 63% supply additional components e.g. fittings for fire doors. The majority of manufacturers (83%) advise customers which components are required for timber fire doors.

Merchant Sales & Confidence

A balance of 32% of merchants sold more timber fire doors in April to June 2006 compared with January to March 2006. Of those reporting a rise, 53% saw an increase of 10% or more. A balance of 30% of merchants also sold more timber fire doors in April to June 2006 compared with the same quarter of 2005.

Merchants are confident. A net 21% forecast better sales in July to September 2006 compared with the previous three months. Similarly, confidence levels are also good. A balance of 22% of merchants are more optimistic now about the overall prospects for the fire door market than three months ago.

The Timber Fire Doors Report, a quarterly trends survey, is produced by Michael Rigby Associates, and sponsored by the BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door and Doorset Scheme in conjunction with Timber Trades Journal. The aim is to keep a finger on the timber fire doors' market pulse, and to view manufacturers' and merchants' expectations of market movements.

The survey covers a representative sample of timber fire door manufacturers as well as 100 timber and builders merchants. Telephone interviews took place between the 3rd-11th July 2006 across a balanced spread of size of firm and geographical area. Numbers employed was used as an indication of company size.

For survey details call Lucia Di Stazio on 01453 521621.

© Copyright BWF and Michael Rigby Associates 2006

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